كنا جلوسا عند رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم، فمر بنا رجل متقنع، فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: يكون بين الناس فرقة واختلاف، فيكون هذا وأصحابه على الحق. قال كعب: فأدركته، فنظرت إليه حتى عرفته، وكنا نسأل كعبا من الرجل؟ فيأبى يخبرنا، حتى خرج كعب مع علي إلى الكوفة، فلم يزل حتى مات. فكأنا أن عرفنا أن ذلك الرجل علي رضي الله عنه.
We were seated with the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and a man passed with his face covered. The Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “There will dissent and division among the people. This (person) and his companions will be upon the truth.” Ka’b said, “I caught up with him and looked at him until I recognized who it was.” We used to ask Ka’b, “Who is he?” He refused to inform us until (eventually) Ka’b set out to Kufah with ‘Ali. He continued until he (eventually) passed away. It was as if we knew the person (we asked about) was ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu.
Al Tabarani narrates — Ibrahim ibn Mattawayh al Asbahani narrated to us — Ibrahim ibn Sa’id al Jawhari narrated to us — Salih ibn Badal — ‘Abdullah ibn Jafar al Madani — from Sa’d ibn Ishaq ibn Ka’b ibn ‘Ujrah — from his father — from Ka’b ibn ‘Ujrah.
This chain of transmission is da’if (weak).
Ishaq ibn Ka’b ibn ‘Ujrah is majhul (unknown). Ibn Hibban mentions him in Kitab al Thiqat. Ibn al Qattan says he is majhul al hal (integrity unverified) and that only his son, Sa’d, narrates from him.
Salih ibn Badal could not be traced.
Ibrahim ibn Mattawayh al Asbahani is one of the huffaz (hadith masters), his biography is mentioned in al Tadhkirah and other places.
This hadith contradicts another hadith with a Hassan (fair) chain of transmission reported by Imam Ahmed and others from Abu al Ash’ath who said:
قامت خطباء بإيلياء في إمارة معاوية رضي الله عنه فتكلموا، وكان آخر من تكلم مرة بن كعب، فقال: لولا حديث سمعته من رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ما قمت، سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يذكر فتنة، فقربها، فمر رجل مقنع. فقال: هذا يومئذ وأصحابه على الحق والهدى. فقلت: هذا يا رسول الله، وأقبلت بوجهه إليه. فقال: هذا، فإذا هو عثمان رضي الله عنه.
The khatibs (preachers) delivered sermons in Iliya’ (Bayt al Maqdis) during Muawiyah’s reign. The last of them to speak was Murrah ibn Ka’b. He said, “If it were not for a hadith I heard from the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, I would not have stood (to address you). I heard the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam mention a fitnah (tribulation), and he made it seem as though it would appear soon. Then a man passed by with a covered face. The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “This (person) and his companions will be upon the truth and upon guidance on that day.” I said, “This (person), O Messenger of Allah? I approached him (to see who he was).” He salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “(Yes) this (person).” It was ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan.
 Al Tabarani: al Mujam al Kabir, 19/322.
 Majhul al hal (integrity unverified) refers to a narrator who has more than one student who transmitted hadiths from him, but hadith critics did not mention anything about his status as a narrator. In other words, a narrator whose reliability is externally evident, but about whose reliability nothing is known. [translator’s note]
 Ibn Hajar: Tahdhib al Tahdhib, 1/217.
 Al Dhahabi: Tadhkirat al Huffaz, 2/740.
 Imam Ahmed: Musnad Ahmed, 4/236.